We’re always looking for clever ways to save a bit of money on our household bills. As well as being financially beneficial, it helps the environment too. Here, we’re taking a look at some of the most common energy saving myths and how to save money on your bills.
Common energy myths
When it comes to energy saving tips, you shouldn’t always believe everything you read. A prime example is leaving your heating on all day is better than just turning it on high when you need it. According to the Energy Saving Trust, this is not the case. They confirm that, in the long run, just having your heating on when you need it will indeed save energy. The key focus here is knowing how much energy is actually required to heat your home. By leaving your heating on for the full day, you are bound to be using energy that you really don’t need to.
Similarly, some people believe that you should leave your lights on rather than turning them off and on again. Simply said, this isn’t true. Even if you leave the room for 10 minutes, make sure you get into the habit of turning the lights off behind you. It’s also believed in some quarters that electrical appliances don’t use any power when they are not in use. While technology is advancing, and energy-saving techniques are in place, some appliances draw energy even when they aren’t in use. A prime example is a phone charger. Did you know that leaving the socket switched on with a phone charger attached can cost you up to £80 each year?
Another odd claim is that you can save energy by putting clingfilm on your windows. Even more surprising, perhaps, is that this one is actually true. Doing so can help you to keep your home warm, but it’s okay to use any material for the second layer of glazing so long as it’s airtight and transparent. Apply this technique and you can help to trap a small layer of air, which can prevent any heat from escaping. Of course, this should only ever be a short-term measure. If you need this second-layer, you should look into getting double glazing. By using this method to have a third layer, you may see a slight difference, but far less than if you had put it on a single glazed window.
How to address fuel poverty
Fuel poverty is a serious issue for some households. This is when a household spends more than 10% of its income on domestic energy use, defining them as a fuel poor household. Northern Powergrid, who can help with electric connection charges, has been a supporter of the fuel poverty charity, National Energy Action (NEA) for several years. The company’s head of stakeholder and customer engagement, Siobhan Barton, said: “Whilst we don’t sell electricity, as the company responsible for the power network which delivers electricity to 3.9 million homes and businesses across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire, we do have a role to play in helping the industry tackle fuel poverty and encouraging energy efficiency.
“We’ve reduced our network charges, which form part of domestic customers’ bills from their chosen electricity supplier, funded a Citizens Advice Bureau fuel debt advice service and helped kick-start a number of projects through our community energy seed fund.”
Tried and tested energy saving methods
Luckily, there are some tried and tested energy saving methods that are guaranteed to help you save. Firstly, you should always be sure to shop around, especially if your energy contract is up for renewal. Simply staying with the same supplier as it’s ‘easier’ could see you spending hundreds of pounds more than you need to. There are many price comparison sites for you to benefit from, so make sure you log on and let them do all the hard work!
Whilst we’ve already covered the myth that you should keep the heating on, you can actually save 10% on your bill by turning the thermostat down by 1⁰C. On average, this could equate to a saving of approximately £75 each year.
Additionally, it can be expensive to use a tumble dryer, so air drying your washing could help you save a substantial amount. If you do need to use a tumble dryer, make sure it’s full, as one full load uses less energy than two half-full loads. The same goes with loading your washing machine. Make sure you have a full machine and keep it to 30⁰C. Another simple energy-saving trick is to just boil the amount of water you need — especially if you are just making a cup of tea or coffee. While this won’t equate to huge savings, every little helps!
It’s also important to remember that spending a lot can actually help you save a lot. If you are in the position to be able to invest money on insulation, upgrading your boiler, or even using renewable technologies, then you should do so. Sometimes you can benefit from a grant for these services, but even if not, you can often pay back what you’ve spent quite quickly and start to save money.
Britain is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 34% as early as next year. A key player in achieving this target would be by members of the public becoming energy efficient – both in the workplace and at home. Research has found that many power plants actually waste around two-thirds of the energy that goes into them. In our homes, we simply aren’t monitoring our energy use as closely as we should be, either.
That is where a new app could aid you. In July 2018, Northern Powergrid revealed how it has collaborated with GenGame to trial a mobile game to demonstrate how gaming could incentivise households to reduce their electricity consumption at times of high demand. Players receive an alert telling them the game is starting encouraging them to consider turning off washing machines, televisions, lights and other home devices for short periods of time to earn points and stand a chance of winning cash prizes.
For example, while pausing your washing machine may only be worth approximately 10p, if you include this in the game format, it gives players the chance to earn more money through prizes, which makes it a lot more interesting. Each month has hundreds of pounds worth of prizes available and each player reduces their electricity consumption by 11% on average.
Andrew Webster, Northern Powergrid Innovation Project Manager, said: “Household electricity use will grow significantly as electric vehicles and heat pumps become mainstream, increasing demand on the network. Mobile games offer a fun solution to help manage this demand, rewarding our customers for reducing their consumption at peak periods.”
There are, of course, many other tips and tricks that can help you to save money on your energy bills, reduce fuel poverty and help the environment, too. It’s also important to remember that if you are struggling to afford your gas and electric charges, your supplier should be able to help you come to a solution and negotiate a deal that helps both parties. Why not make sure you take on board some of the advice and do your part — both for your bank balance and the world you live in?